Memorable shots: Torbjørnskjer

This picture is of a small island of Torbjørnskjer near the mouth of Oslofjord where it joins with the North Sea. It represents a departure from my usual style of photo-processing. Taken at dawn from windswept upper deck of the overnight Copenhagen-Oslo ferry, it looked unremarkable in its original form. But softening the focus, along with warming up the white balance and reducing the blues, gave it an almost mystic small-hours look that instantly turned it into one of my all-time favorites.

Torbjørnskjer, Norway

Even on a biggest ship in the calmest waters, you are never completely still relative to a subject that is some distance away. In a strong wind, with the larger profile of extended telescopic lenses, you definitely have to err on the side of a fast shutter in order to get a reasonably sharp shot. But overall sharpness frequently translates into ugly choppy waters, so softening focus in post-processing becomes a necessity.

The coast in the background was already misty and softening the waves left the island contours too incongruously sharp in the middle of a dreamy picture. So I went for a slight softening of everything, not just the water. Nine out of ten times my preferences run towards additional sharpening of a picture, not softening. Which makes this end result all the more satisfying.

On a different note, I do not have a built-in GPS in my camera, nor can I justify carrying a separate accessory for the purpose of geo-tagging my photos. In most city-centric instances, my memory of the walking routes is frequently sufficient for determining the exact location of the photo that had been captured. That is much harder to accomplish when you are on the ship in the middle of the sea. Based on the time of the day and the known route of the ferry, I knew that we were close to entering Oslofjord. But there are several lighthouse islands in the area. It took a bit of a review of Google satellite images and the corresponding shots in Google Images library to pinpoint this particular small island, Torbjørnskjer, at the edge of Ytre Hvaler marine national park.

I don’t mind that extra effort when it has to do with a shot that I like a lot.